Little is known about the diagnostic value of a D-dimer test in cancer patients with clinically suspected deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
To evaluate the clinical utility of a whole blood rapid D-dimer test (SimpliRED) in cancer patients compared with noncancer patients.
In consecutive patients with suspected lower limb DVT, a D-dimer test and ultrasonogram were performed. Cancer status was recorded at presentation. If the D-dimer test and ultrasonogram results were normal, DVT was considered absent. If the D-dimer result was abnormal, ultrasonography was performed again 1 week later. Anticoagulant therapy was only instituted in those patients with an abnormal ultrasonography result. All patients were followed up for 3 months to record subsequent thromboembolic events. The accuracy of the D-dimer test was assessed, and the efficiency and safety of withholding additional ultrasonography in cancer patients with normal results on both D-dimer and ultrasonography was compared with noncancer patients.
A total of 1739 consecutive patients were studied, 217 (12%) of whom had cancer. The negative predictive value of the D-dimer test was 97% in both cancer and noncancer patients. In 63 (29%) of all 217 cancer patients, the D-dimer and ultrasonography results were normal at referral; therefore, the diagnosis of DVT was refuted and anticoagulant treatment was withheld. In these 63 patients, one thromboembolic event occurred during follow-up (1.6%; 95% confidence interval, 0.04%-8.53%).
The negative predictive value of a whole blood D-dimer test in cancer patients seems as high as in noncancer patients. In a substantial proportion of cancer patients, the diagnosis can likely be refuted at referral, based on normal D-dimer test and ultrasonogram results. Furthermore, it seems safe to withhold anticoagulant therapy in these patients.